Lise Saffran grew up in Marin County, California, near Mount Tamalpais and attended college in Eugene, Oregon. She began writing fiction seriously at the age of thirty. The West Coast of the USA is the setting for most of her fiction. She left a job in Missouri mid career in public health that included a stint preventing farm injuries, to pursue an MFA in fiction writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She earned her MFA in May of the year she was thirty-three and had her first child one month later. She now lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband and two sons. However, most of her writing is set close to the Pacific Ocean. Juno's Daughters is her first novel and takes place in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington State. Inspired by a camping trip to the San Juan Islands, the first journey she and her husband took together when they were college students. It is where they returned to years later, for a special birthday weekend without her children. It was on that trip that they saw local theatre company Island Stage Left perform their version of The Tempest, which provided inspiration for the imagined story of Jenny Alexander and her daughters.
Lise's essay entitled Why We Write: In the Presence of Living.